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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2010): Education - UK - schools

1,000 schools apply for academy status

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 3rd 2010, p. 11

A total of 1,114 schools have applied to become independent academies under government plans to expand the programme announced in the Queen's Speech. Most of the schools could break free of local authority control as early as September 2010.

Academies Bill is anti-democratic, lawyers warn

J. Sheppard

The Guardian, June 7th 2010, p. 6

The National Union of Teachers and education barristers have said that the Government's Academies Bill is 'anti-democratic' because it removes parents' and teachers' legal right to oppose plans for schools to leave council control and local authorities' powers to veto a school's attempt to switch status.

Anger grows over primary school places shortage

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 11th 2010, p. 16

Figures show that the number of appeals lodged by parents against the primary school place allotted to their children has almost doubled in two years. The rise is believed to be due to an increase in the birth rate combined with an influx of migrants in some areas, putting extra pressure on the most sought after primary school places. It was also disclosed that almost a third of appeals led to decisions being overturned.

Bring in selection at 14 to improve results, says expert

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 24th 2010, p. 16

Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University, argues that pupils should be able to sit examinations to get into grammar schools, transfer to specialist science schools or move to technical colleges at the age of 14. His comments were made on the basis of academic research showing that countries with academic selection at secondary school gain better results.

Children 'need sex and alcohol lessons by age of five'

R. Smith

Daily Telegraph, June 17th 2010, p. 10

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published new draft guidance calling for improvements in the way that sex, relationship and alcohol issues are taught in schools. It is proposed that children aged between five and eight should be taught how to resist pressure to drink and about the dangers of alcohol. Sex education should begin at primary school with lessons on how to value friendships and respect other people. Parents should be offered training in how to talk to their children about sex, relationships and alcohol.

Cost of closing the education gap

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, May 18th-24th 2010, p. 9

The new Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition government proposes the introduction of a pupil premium which will provide extra money to fund the schooling of disadvantaged children. In this article experts debate whether the extra cash would in reality raise the educational attainment of the poorest children.

Free school meals curbed in austerity drive

R. Bennett, R. Watson and F. Elliott

The Times, June 9th 2010, p.3

The Chancellor George Osborne has announced that some departments will lose up to 20 per cent of their budgets. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has responded to these austerity measures by announcing that he will scrap plans made by his predecessor, Ed Balls, to extend free school meals to 500,000 children from the lowest paid households. The Child Poverty Action group has said that it is 'stunned' at the move, as Balls proposal would have lifted 50,000 children out of poverty in one step.

Gove has no 'ideological objection' to firms making profits by running academy schools

P. Barkham and P. Curtis

The Guardian, June 1st 2010, p. 6

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that the government has 'no ideological objection' to businesses seeking profits from the new generation of academy and free schools, although he also stated that his preference was for teachers and other experts to decide how to run and improve schools and that he expected most academies to be run as philanthropic projects.

Grammar schools warned of 'covert dangers' in seeking academy status

R. Williams

The Guardian, June 24th 2010, p. 17

The National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA) is advising extreme caution in view of the policy's potential 'covert dangers', a week after Catholic schools were told by the church that it would be unwise for them to seek academy status. The NGSA claims that the plans have not been thought through and are an attempt by the Conservatives to appear non-elitist. The Association is also concerned that if grammar schools were to become academies, parents might not be consulted about any subsequent decisions to change admissions arrangements and let in pupils of all abilities.

Health professionals join the backlash over school meal cuts

R. Williams

The Guardian, Jun. 22nd 2010, p. 8

The Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Physicians are the latest groups to join the protest against the government's decision to axe plans for free school meals for half a million primary school students from low-income families. The groups claim that the scheme would have lifted 50,000 young people out of poverty and cut education and health inequalities by giving them more nutritious lunches. They also point out that thousands of unemployed parents would be put off returning to work because losing their entitlement to free meals would cost them more than 300.

Home school parents 'must register children'

R. Garner

The Independent, Jun. 17th 2010, p. 20

A report by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, has called for new legislation to ensure that parents who educate their children at home register with their local authority to avoid making it possible for children to 'disappear'. The inspectors also want council officials to have the right to undertake an annual home visit. The report has ruled that councils are unable to perform their legal responsibilities for the safeguarding and welfare of children in their area under the present system.

Improving the food environment in UK schools: policy opportunities and challenges

A. Devi, R. Surender and M. Rayner

Journal of Public Health Policy, vol.31, 2010, p. 212-226

Childhood obesity and overweight in the UK increased from 11 to 17 per cent among boys and from 12 to 16 per cent among girls between 1995 and 2007. In 2006 the government addressed the issue by introducing new healthy standards for all school food, including products sold from vending machines. This research explores the factors influencing schools' decisions and children's food choices in relation to vending machines based on in-depth interviews with staff and pupils in one English local education authority. It emerged that schools were constrained in their ability to offer healthy food choices by fiscal difficulties and competing priorities. Both staff and pupils were critical of current initiatives to restrict access to unhealthy foods, with pupils saying that they would simply bring food into school from home.

Inclusive physical education? A study of the management of national curriculum physical education and unplanned outcomes in England

D. Haycock and A. Smith

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 31, 2010, p. 291-305

Drawing on aspects of figurational sociology, the central objective of this study was to examine the extent to which physical education (PE) teachers have been able to achieve the government's inclusion policy goals articulated in the 2000 National Curriculum for Physical Education (NCPE) for England, aimed at addressing the needs of young disabled people and those with special educational needs in mainstream schools. The findings indicate that using the NCPE as a means to pursue the government's educational inclusion policy goals has had the unplanned effect of undermining the extent to which the government is able to use inclusion to make a greater contribution to the promotion of young people's experiences of PE.

Labour's diplomas in science, languages scrapped

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 8th 2010, p. 2

The schools minister in the new coalition government has announced that academic diplomas in the humanities, science and languages due to be rolled out in September 2011 will be withdrawn immediately. Academic diplomas, which combined work-based training and traditional study, had been devised under the Labour government as an alternative to GCSEs and A-levels. Diplomas will remain for other practical subjects such as health, media, ICT, engineering and construction. State schools will also be able to offer the international GCSE in core subjects for the first time. These examinations, which are believed to be tougher than conventional GCSEs, had been banned by New Labour. The government has also announced that it is scrapping a major overhaul of the primary school curriculum due to be introduced in September 2010.

Local authorities and home education



Report calls for the parents of all home-schooled children to be legally obliged to register with their local authority and undergo annual inspections to avoid children 'disappearing'. Councils should also do more to help parents whose children are being bullied at school to keep them within the state system. The report concludes that local authorities are unable to carry out their safeguarding responsibilities under the present system.

Only half of pupils are taught well, says Ofsted

N. Woolcock

The Times, June 17th 2010, p.3

Nine per cent of the schools that Ofsted inspected in autumn 2009 year and spring 2010 year were rated as inadequate, while 47 per cent were deemed to be either inadequate or satisfactory. Teachers and teacher's unions have said that the decline in figures is due to a stricter framework. The inspection figures show that fewer than half the academy schools inspected since autumn 2009 have been judged as outstanding or good.

Quangos bear the brunt of education budget cuts

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, June 1st-7th 2010, p. 9

The Coalition government is cutting the Department for Education's budget by 670m in 2010/11. In order to cut costs without hitting frontline services, a number of education quangos are either being abolished or having their budgets cut. Professional development for teachers and other staff working in children's services is likely to suffer.

Shaping a new educational landscape: exploring possibilities for education in the 21st century

M. Coates (editor)

London: Continuum, 2010

This book includes contributions from a diverse group of writers who examine a range of possibilities for future developments in education and society through exploration of alternative scenarios and strategies. Many argue that although educational reform in the UK over the last twenty years has focused on the educational process, the financial management of schools and the inspection system, it has not laid the foundations for a world-class responsive education system.

State schools are freed to offer private sector's tougher IGCSE

J. Sugden

The Times, June 8th 2010, p.13

The Government has announced that it will introduce the International GCSE qualification as a possible choice for 16 year olds across the state sector. The qualification is currently favoured by the private sector and is seen by some as 'tougher' than the standard GCSE. Teachers have said that the move will cause confusion for parents and students.

Teaching quango to be scrapped

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 3rd 2010, p. 7

The General Teaching Council for England is to be abolished amid claims that it failed to improve classroom standards, deal effectively with incompetent teachers or offer value for money.

Teaching toddlers to read has 'no benefit by the time they are 5'

J. Sugden

The Times, June 8th 2010, p.13

Research from the Office for National Statistics is likely to reinforce calls for the curriculum for under-5s to be reformed. The research found that in a sample of 7,000 children, 'on average, early years education had no impact on any of [the] outcome measures.'

Transforming religious education



Inspectors looked at religious education (RE) in 94 primary and 89 secondary schools, excluding faith schools, between April 2006 and March 2009. Compared with an earlier Ofsted survey, the number of lessons classified as inadequate had doubled in secondary schools. In many primary schools, the report found the quality of RE lessons to be not good enough, with achievement only rated 'satisfactory' in six out of ten schools. Inspectors singled out the study of Christianity as being a particular source of concern. Primary schools in particular were often uncertain about whether Christian material should be investigated in its own right as part of understanding the religion, or whether it should be used to consider moral and social themes out of the context of the religion. The report urges the government to review the way RE is taught in schools.

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